Withe the great anticipation I was awaiting another game in The Great Statesmen series – Versailles 1919. I am a big fan of Churchill and Periciles so my hopes were really big.

The box with beautiful game inside arrived just recently and before I managed to organize a session with my boardgames group, I first decided to explore the solitaire variant. Below post will focus exactly on that aspect – you may of course count on more content once I conducted some of multiplayer sessions. But before diving into the actual gameplay, a couple of words about the Mark Herman and Geoff Engelstein creation.

The Game

The Great War ended 11th November 1918, and the Paris conference – held between January and June 1919 – aimed to shape the future of the World after that great calamity. The main decision makers were Woodrow Wilson (United States), David Lloyd George (United Kingdom), Vittorio Orlando (Italy) and George Clemenceau (France) whom the players would be able to lead through those negotiations.

The game introduces a new card-bidding mechanism in which you use your influence to settle issues aligned with your agenda while keeping domestic constituents in support of your actions (means, happiness!). You need to balance the need to demobilize your military forces while simultaneously keeping regional unrest under control. All of these decisions are set against the backdrop of regional crises and uprisings.

But to win you do not only have to settle issues but also progress with your agenda – depicted in the game by strategy cards. Whoever gets the most points once the finishing issue is settled, wins the game!

You can play the game with 1 to 4 players. The solo mode is pretty interesting, as you do not manage one, fixed nation representation. It changes during the play and each time an issue is unsettled, you immediately take the place of the side with least points! How to win? You need to accumulate 20 VPs (normal difficulty level) and you score only if at the begging of the turn your faction is leading in negotiations. Sounds difficult? Oh, it is! So let us see now how it went!

Solo attempt #1

(click on above pictures to enlarge)

First game was of course time of learning the basic game mechanics as well as understanding how they can be used in solo mode. Once all three sides had and issue won, I was able to start scoring points. In solitaire mode you use only US, UK and France, and playing as Woodrow Wilson I managed to keep Lloyd George and President Clemenceau in check as long as 11 points.

Then, an uprising forced me change to French and it took really quite some time to score enough points for them to be in the lead and again start accumulating VPs. That was not bad as I managed to increase the score from 11 to 16 before game ended by depletion of draw deck.

A failure – 20 VPs was a victory threshold – but I was extremely proud from the result barring it was my first play.

Solo attempt #2

(click on above pictures to enlarge)

On the next day I immediately started another game. I am of opinion it is always worth to play a game couple of times in succession to get to know it better. And really immerse into it 🙂

I again started as USA, and played very, very cautiously to keep my opponents in check. Actually, they were heavily investing into one of the issues in Waiting Room (of course, I directed them), which caused them couple of times not to be able to do any move! How I forced them into this? They had no influence left, nothing to reclaim, both discussed issues had my majority of votes. That way I managed to play 4 turns in a succession just getting points.

Later on it was very difficult to stay afloat and avoid issue un-settlements, but if by choosing crisis correctly and deploying military units, I somehow managed to survive till 20 VPs with one nation! Success!

First impression – solo mode

  1. The game solitaire variant has a very innovative approach – no fixed nation to lead but more like a “behind the scenes” manipulation to maximize your gain; I really liked this
  2. The solo rules are pretty straightforward, with no ambiguous points
  3. I also like the rule, that if something were not mentioned in solitaire variant as a must, could be freely interpreted by the player; simple like this – all uncertainties resolved by player instead of looking for some special explanation
  4. Last but not least, the solo variant is very challenging but also provides great training opportunity before multiplayer game

That is all for today – I will share much more once multiplayer games are conducted by my group. So far, the experience is great but I still need to dig deeper. Being a history fan and knowing what the period is about helps of course. More to come!